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Common online banking mistake that could leave your account wide open to thieves

By Mirror | Aug 2nd 2019 | 4 min read
By Mirror | August 2nd 2019

More than two thirds of adults now manage their bank accounts online - a number that's risen by almost 50 per cent since last year, as the shift to digital continues to surge.

However, a simple mistake when logging on could be leaving many people at risk of fraud.

Around the world free wi-fi is now readily available in airports, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, hotel rooms and shopping centres, and depending on your settings, you phone may choose to connect to these networks automatically.

It means you can avoid eating into your mobile data allowance and paying high roaming charges while out of the country.

However, using public wi-fi - networks that don’t require a password - could also pose huge risks to your details.

Even if you need a password to access a network, there's no guarantee that the network is safe.

And without adequate protection, you could be at risk of cyber criminals seeing your internet activity and getting hold of your personal information, explain experts at encryption service Top10VPN.

Not only will you not know who else is connected, but it is possible for other users on the network to see what you’re doing on your device as your data is not encrypted on these networks.

"Public wi-fi is convenient but it’s also open and less secure than your personal, private network," said Simon Migliano, at Top10VPN.

"If possible, avoid online shopping or logging into bank accounts when using an unsecured wi-fi network as you don’t want to risk your personal financial information getting into the wrong hands.

"Cyber criminals know all the tricks in the book. They can easily intercept communications between the public wi-fi user and the wi-fi router and capture and view all your incoming and outgoing data.

"More sophisticated criminals can send files to unsuspecting users infected with malware if their file sharing is enabled or trick them into joining a fake network and then gain access to their personal information.

"If you're trying to access your online banking on the go, turn off automatic connectivity on your phones, laptops and tablets to avoid your devices connecting to networks you wouldn't ordinarily use."

Simple ways to protect your details on public wi-fi

  • Wherever possible try and stick to well-known, ideally password-protected networks,  such as in a recognised store or coffee shop you’ve used before. The more networks you sign up to, the more likely it is that you’ll sign up to one that won’t treat your personal data as carefully as it should.
  • Avoid browsing websites that use an unencrypted HTTP connection . Stick to encrypted HTTPS websites, because when you browse these sites, people on the same WiFi network as you won’t be able to snoop on data that is travelling between you and the server you’re connecting to.
  • Be careful about signing up to public wi-fi where the provider asks you for personal details such as your email address and mobile number . It’s better to connect through a service you’re already registered for, than signing up to another company.
  • If possible, try and limit using file sharing and AirDrop to reduce the risk of someone grabbing your files. Better still, turn off both options on your devices whenever you’re on public wi-fi to avoid the temptation.
  • Turn on the firewall as it acts as a barrier that protects your devices from malware threats.  It won’t provide complete protection, but it will monitor and block certain kinds of data packets  coming from networks.
  • Use antivirus software to detect malware  that might get into your system while using a shared network.
  • If possible, avoid online shopping or logging into bank accounts  when using an unsecured wi-fi network as you don’t want to risk your personal financial information getting into the wrong hands.
  • Turn off automatic connectivity on your phones , laptops and tablets to avoid your devices connecting to networks you wouldn't ordinarily use.
  • The safest and most effective way to browse on public wi-fi is to use a VPN  (Virtual Private Network).
    It encrypts data travelling to and from your devices and connects you to the internet via a secure server, ensuring that whoever is on the network or operating the network, won’t be able to see what you’re doing or be able to grab your personal information.
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